We often say “they lived their best life” when we’re speaking about someone’s death.
Best life is a vague term, with different interpretations across time and culture. What does it mean to live your best life in the twenty-first century? I think what we really mean is “the good life”: one where you are able to make use of your mind and body, mingle with people who are important to you, engage with pursuits that provide fulfillment, grow in knowledge and understanding of the world around you.
This lifestyle blog post will tell you how to live a good life. I’ll share my own experiences, and I’ll draw on the stories of people who inspired me to live a good life and tried to help others do the same. The messages here aren’t exactly new – they’re really just reminders, but if you’re looking for something new to follow, this post will probably be off-putting. I don’t think people who live a good life are particularly interesting – we get up in the morning, get dressed, go to work, come home and eat food that looks like it came out of the microwave without any thought. We follow the same routines every day, and we’re dead inside.
Unless you’re lucky enough to live a life that has some kind of meaning or value, your life will be filled with boredom, futility and despair. You’ll never know what it’s like to be precious or powerful. You’ll spend your whole life on the sidelines, watching from afar as others live and die – you won’t even get a chance to give birth if you don’t want children! Being alive is so unexciting that I’ve started to wonder whether people are better off dead (which is admittedly pretty nihilistic).
It’s hard for us to notice the value of our lives, because it’s hard to imagine a life that doesn’t have meaning. We’re trained from birth that we should care about things like money, clothes, and good looks – things we can get with money or without it. We’re taught that we should care about people around us, and if we don’t have family nearby then we need to have friends. We’re indoctrinated into believing that if you live your life under the right conditions you’ll be happy with what you’ve got – then you can put your mind on hold while you spend all your time chasing after material goods and social status.
When you’re young, it’s hard to imagine a life that contains big challenges, because those are things we haven’t encountered yet and can’t picture. The fact that other people might die is also difficult to imagine: isn’t that what happens in wars? What does it mean to live a meaningful life when most of us die before we have the chance to feel important or significant?
The truth is, we’re all going to die. We will all leave our mark; we will all have influence on other people’s lives; and some of us will leave more of a mark than others. It’s pointless for me to be searching for meaning when there isn’t any meaning to discover. The only meaning of life is to do your best and live well.
The real meaning of life is tied up in the word “meaning”. It’s something you can have only when you live a good life. Meaning comes from the actions we take, but don’t forget: the actions you take now are based on what you know in your mind and what you have experienced in your past. You can have meaning even if others think that what you’re doing has no value or importance. You can gain respect by living well.